A significant minority of local councils in England are resisting the will of the government by undermining the Right to Build registers, according to the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA).

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, CEO of NaCSBA, spoke on BBC Radio 4’s You & Yours programme today about the problems people who’ve signed up to the Right to Build registers have faced, and continue to face.

The Right to Build legislation supports people who want to build their own homes, requiring local authorities to help them find suitable plots through the Right to Build registers. 

Around 11,400 new registrations have been added to the self and custom build registers in the past 12 months, but these numbers do not match the underlying demand, with councils using dirty tricks in some instances, NaCSBA has reported.

“A significant minority of local councils are undertaking steps to resist or thwart the will of government and the needs of the people,” said Baddeley-Chappell.

“We’ve found some pretty shocking practices from local authorities that have made it more difficult for individuals either by making it too hard to join the registers, or removing people once they are on the register, or simply counting all new permissions as potentially suitable for custom and self build even if they know that a major house builder is going to build on the site.” 

Baddeley-Chappell also called out the financial restrictions preventing people from joining the lists. “Around 15% of councils charge to be on the lists – the worst example is a council called Three Rivers District Council [in Hertfordshire], which charges £725 over four years simply to register your interest. Those costs need to be cost-justified but it seems pretty clear that Three Rivers won’t be able to do that.” 

What’s the Future of Right to Build?

Later this year councils will have to demonstrate their ability to meet the demand all over again, and Baddeley-Chappell is concerned that the situation could worsen still. “Problems that are building up now are just going to grow into a greater problem in years to come,” he said.

With more registrations each year, the demand is poised to increase, but the UK will remain behind other countries in the custom and self build sector unless councils focus on meeting the demand.

“Custom and self build is relatively rare in the UK – we estimate around 13,000 homes were built in the last year – but if you look across the rest of the developed world then around 40% of all homes are delivered this way. Were we doing that in the UK then we’d be building around 80,000 homes this way.”

You can find your local self and custom build registers on NaCSBA’s Right to Build Portal.

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